A couple months ago my husband Andy suggested we head to Annapolis for a day trip. My heart leapt with joy. I had been asking him to take me to Annapolis for over a year. It was finally going to happen! Or, it would have happened, except we remembered we had made a commitment to attend a social event that same day. Annapolis got pushed back a weekend, and then another, and now we’re thinking we’ll go in the spring.
It would be so easy for me to feel defeated. Easy for me to think Annapolis will never happen. Easy for me to resent Andy for taking ages to agree on a date that was important to me.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)
I have five years of marriage under my belt, but I still have MUCH to learn. Right now I’m learning what it looks like to manage date night expectations—particularly when it comes to feeling pursued and going on dates that are meaningful to me.
So, what does managing date night expectations look like in my life?
Dates depend on a lot of things—schedules, budget, location and personal preferences. There are many dates I’d like to go on that require a two-hour roundtrip (such as Annapolis), and that’s simply not practical for many of our weekends. I also love the stereotypical date of dinner and a movie, but movies are so expensive now that we often pick one or the other!
The more I mentally build up what a date should look like, the more burden I place on Andy and the more disappointed I’ll be if my expectations aren’t met. Sometimes I have to take a look at our calendar to remind myself the date I was hoping for couldn’t have happened due to other obligations.
View simple outings as dates
Whenever I’m tempted to believe Andy doesn’t pursue me enough, I take a mental journey of the past week or two and think of the times we’ve spent together. Maybe he asked if I wanted to go to the dog park. I can count that as a date, right? By changing the way I define a date, I’m taking pressure off of my husband and helping to satisfy my desire for quality time together. After all, isn’t that what a date is—time spent with someone you love? By that definition, nearly anything can be a date.
Andy and I recently went to an international food market that just opened near our house. We had a great time holding hands and laughing over the unusual smells and products. We were only there for about half an hour, but I chose to view it as a quirky, fun date.
If getting out of the house isn’t an option, try setting aside quality time at home that is meaningful to both of you. (Monday night football may or may not be your idea of a romantic evening). One date I’d like to try is having a cooking competition with Andy.
Focus on the positive
I’ll be honest; trips to the dog park and the grocery store aren’t the only dates I want to go on. I see those types of outings as “fillers” in between dates that are more intentional and romantic. We recently went on a trip to Chicago with another couple, and for half of one day we split up and did our own thing. Andy and I strolled through a park, played mini-golf, gorged on Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs and made out like teenagers on a stretch of sand along Lake Michigan.
I will never forget our date in Chicago, and I will choose to dwell on the sweet memories we’ve made over the years whenever I’m tempted to believe we don’t do “enough” fun things.
Communicate desires and offer ideas
I’ll admit, I sometimes wish Andy could read my mind and whisk me away on a date I’ve always wanted to go on (a ride in a hot air balloon, to name one). He isn’t a mind reader though, and neither is your significant other!
I’ve found it helpful to change the way I approach talking to Andy about our dating life. Instead of saying, “I need you to ask me out on more dates” (which puts him in the position of trying to figure out how to make me happy), I try to give him ideas for dates I’d enjoy going on. For example, I might say, “There’s an event downtown this weekend, and it would make me feel super special if you’d go with me. Could we do that together?”
Be willing to compromise
Some women enjoy being in control of date night, but others prefer to have their man do the planning (like me). Andy once pointed out that because I know our schedule better and I have more ideas for dates, it makes more sense that I make the plans. I didn’t like his idea at first. I think it’s more romantic when he comes up with the date and surprises me. He makes a valid point, though!
The compromise we came up with has worked well for us: I tell Andy when we’re free, and then we alternate on coming up with things to do.
I try to reserve “girly” outings for times I spend with friends. For years I lamented that Andy was reluctant to walk around cute downtowns with me, but I eventually realized his fear of me popping into every boutique was probably valid. My friends are better shopping companions, anyway!
Find ultimate satisfaction and security in Christ
It’s easy to feel discontent and insecure when your romantic life isn't going the way you imagined it would. The unfortunate truth is you might try all of these pieces of advice and not see immediate results. Sometimes I’ve been hesitant to voice my desires for fear that I’ll be hurt if Andy chooses to not take action. In my opinion it’s still better to say something than nothing at all.
Your significant other wants to please you, but it could be possible that he is content with how things are or that he feels he can’t live up to your expectations. (Remember, Andy knew I wanted to go to Annapolis for a year before he suggested that we go.)
Only God is perfect, and only God will never let you down. Ask Him to guide you in how to approach your loved one about your desires, and allow Him to search your heart and transform you with His patient, gracious love.
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)
Need some date ideas? Check out this impressive compilation of date ideas, organized into categories such as “free/frugal,” “seasonal” and “at home.” Plus, here is a great a collection of questions from various contributors, including Christian authors (some might not be appropriate for a date) and some silly questions for good measure.
Laura Rennie lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband and constantly shedding dog. She loves reading, writing and playing word games. Her greatest desire is to share Jesus through her words and actions as she learns how to be a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.